Filmmaking From Home With Projection Mapping

Stuck at home in self-quarantine, artist and filmmaker [Kira Bursky] had fewer options than normal for her latest film project. While a normal weekend film sprint would have involved collaborating with actors, set designers, and cinematographers in a frenzied attempt to finish in less than 48 hours, she instead chose to indulge in her curiosity for projection mapping, a technique that involves projecting visuals onto three-dimensional or flat surfaces.

In order for the images to properly map onto a surface, the surface first has to be mapped so that the projection is able to properly transform the flat image in order to produce the illusion of the light wrapping around the object. The technique is done in layers, in software similar to Photoshop, making it easier for the designer to organize the different interacting components in their animation.

[Kira] used a tool called Lightform to design her projections, which relies on a camera to calibrate the location of the surface and a projector to display the visuals. Her animated figures are drawn with loose lines and characterized by their slow gradients and ethereal movements. In the background of her film, a rhythmic sound plays while she brings the figures closer to view. Their outlines come into greater focus until the figures transform into her physical body, which also dances with the meandering lights.

Check out the short film below.

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Atomic Clapperboard

Whether you know it as a clapperboard, a slate, slate board, time slate, or by another name, you probably recognize this staple of movie making. It’s a handy way to help synchronize sound with video, and to keep track of clips when it comes time to edit. But this clapperboard is quite a bit more accurate than most. It’s got an atomic clock source for dead-on accuracy.

The project came from the growing availability of Rubidium clock source modules on eBay. They can be had for under $100 and you’ll enjoy accuracy of 0.1 ppm. [Luddite Tech] grabbed one for himself and included it in this build. As you can see in the clip after the break, the contrast of the eight-digit display is adjustable, and shines brightest when the marker is snapped. We’d guess the cable he connects at the beginning of the demo is used to set the initial time reference. After that the in-built WiFi can be used to push the time markers to a computer.

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Toyaanisqatsi: Time Lapse Control Using LEGO Parts


A simple panning motion can add impact to the already-dramatic effect of time lapse photography. To accomplish this, frugal cinematographers sometimes build [Rube Goldberg] contraptions from clock motors, VCR parts or telescope tracking mounts. Hack a Day reader [Stephan Martin] has assembled a clever bargain-basement system using an Arduino-driven stepper motor and a reduction gear system built up from LEGO Technic parts, along with some Processing code on a host PC to direct the show.

While the photography is a bit crude (using just a webcam), [Stephan’s] underlying motion control setup might interest budding filmmakers with [Ron Fricke] aspirations but Top Ramen budgets. What’s more, unlike rigid clock motor approaches, software control of the camera mount has the potential for some interesting non-linear, fluid movements.